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Digital Musings From the Editor:

As February comes to a close, so does the awards season, with the Academy Awards taking place on Sunday, the 29th, thanks to leap year. Will it be the momentous coronation of RETURN OF THE KING, the final breathtaking installment of Peter Jackson's ambitious LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy? That's the prognosis. It would not only be a historical breakthrough for the fantasy genre gaining the coveted Best Picture Oscar but also acknowledgment of how pivotal a role vfx play in our storytelling. Massive, Gollum, digital grading and all the rest that Weta and company ingeniously conjured in the cinematic rendering of Tolkien's war-torn Middle-Earth have elevated vfx to a whole new level of achievement and expectation.

Speaking of the Academy Awards, VFXWorld asked some of the Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisors for RETURN OF THE KING, MASTER AND COMMANDER and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN what they thought of each other's work. You might be surprised to learn that one of them was just a little critical of RETURN OF THE KING in his conversation with Henry Turner.

We'll also find out Sunday if Pixar will take home its first Best Animated Feature Oscar for FINDING NEMO -- a stunning combination of virtual underwater CGI and audience-pleasing storytelling that fittingly broke all box office records for animation. And we'll see if DESTINO is destined for Oscar immortality, not only as the Best Animated Short and a tribute to the collaborative genius of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, but also as the rallying cry for Roy Disney in his fight to retain control of the Magic Kingdom that his father and uncle built -- and the tradition that goes along with it, including traditional animation. The Michael Eisner referendum finally comes to a head next Wednesday during the all-important shareholders' meeting in Philadelphia.

George Lucas once again proclaimed the 21st century as the age of digital storytelling at last week's VES Awards 2004, where he received the inaugural Life Achievement Award. His digital legacy was honored along with last year's outstanding achievements in movies, TV, commercials and music videos, proving once again that the digital sandbox is expanding and aiding in everyone's creativity. I was on hand at the Hollywood Palladium to report on the highlights, which you can read about in The VFXNewswire as well.

You can also check out Turner's incisive overview of the 2004 Super Bowl spots, discovering a more invisible brand of CGI on display -- an overall trend apparent in MASTER AND COMMANDER and THE LAST SAMURAI that we will be following closely throughout the year.

Bill DesowitzEditor